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News, 1-8/11/02 (3) INSIDE IRAQ * Artist's brush with fame ensures he is never lacking for inspiration * Iraqi orchestra soldiers on * Tribal villages a wild card in Iraq's future * As the threat of war grows, archaeologists make plea to spare Iraq's treasures * An unsettling quest for truth in Baghdad NORTHERN IRAQ/SOUTHERN KURDISTAN * Bar on Kurd MPs attending Iraq meet * Sounds of Silence IRAQI/UK RELATIONS * 'The story of Iraq' on BBC * British Army Chiefs Told War on Iraq "Too Expensive" * Saddam out to kill dissidents in UK * Support for attack on Iraq falls to new low * Archbishop attacks war on Iraq * 'War crimes' fear for British troops * Straw promises MPs Iraq debate and vote * War with Iraq 'would cost the UK 230,000 jobs' INSIDE IRAQ http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2002/11/01/1036027036806.html * ARTIST'S BRUSH WITH FAME ENSURES HE IS NEVER LACKING FOR INSPIRATION by David Blair in Baghdad Sydney Morning Herald, (from the London Daily Telegraph), 2nd November Inside a tiny studio crowded with paintings of Saddam Hussein, the man with the second most to lose from any United States onslaught on Iraq made the finishing touches to yet another portrait of his hero. Salam Abid has painted Saddam at least 300 times and never tires of depicting those familiar features on canvas. "He is a beautiful man with a beautiful face and a beautiful smile," said Mr Abid, 47. He dabbed a loving brush over Saddam's countenance, setting a row of perfect white teeth in a beaming grin. Working from a studio in central Baghdad, he has turned out many of the official portraits of Saddam that adorn countless street corners across Iraq. If the US and Britain succeed in ousting Saddam, however, Mr Abid risks losing his livelihood. The fall of a despot may inflict penury on the despot's official painter. Demand for Saddam portraits may not outlast his rule. While professing undying loyalty to his "beloved" leader, the thought of life after Saddam has crossed Mr Abid's mind. "I am an artist who also paints flowers," he said. "I paint anyone who comes here and asks me. I do not only paint Saddam." Mr Abid prefers not to dwell on such thoughts. Instead, he proudly described his contribution to Saddam's personality cult. The artist claimed credit for the portraits of Saddam that glower over the entrance to Abu Ghraib prison, the largest and most notorious jail in Iraq. He is especially proud of another picture that hangs inside a presidential palace in Baghdad. When he was commissioned to produce that work in 1998, Mr Abid was allowed an audience with his leader. He was told to wait on a particular Baghdad street corner at 4am. A car with black-tinted windows appeared at the rendezvous and whisked him inside a palace. Mr Abid waited for a few hours and was about to start a sumptuous breakfast when he was called into the presence of his leader. "I kissed him four times," he said. "I kissed him on the cheeks and also on the shoulders because he is a great man. "I was very afraid because it was the first time I have met Saddam. "He talked with me very gently. He said, 'I am very pleased to see you. We Iraqis are all one family. This palace is not a palace for me. It is a house for all Iraqi people. If any Iraqi comes here, he is welcome."' Iraqi street corners display a wide variety of Saddam iconography. He is portrayed variously as resolute soldier, firm Bedouin chieftain and relaxed man of the people, with an open-neck shirt and an easy smile. Mr Abid specialises in the friendly and laid-back version of Saddam. His latest portraits have Saddam smiling in a cream suit and laughing in a dark suit. Not all Iraqis share the painter's enthusiasm for their leader, however. One day, Mr Abid may suffer the ultimate artistic humiliation. His works could join countless others on the mother of all bonfires. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/2399745.stm * IRAQI ORCHESTRA SOLDIERS ON by Caroline Hawley BBC, 4th November They play from photocopied music sheet, they have lost many of their players, but members of the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra say that, even with the threat of renewed conflict, the show must go on. "Sanctions have affected us all in many ways," says 39-year-old cellist, Omar al-Sheikh, who works as an engineer by day. "There are problems with the availability of instruments and of spare parts. One of my strings broke and I couldn't find a replacement." But the conductor, Abdel Razzak Al-Azzawi, makes light of these "minor" inconveniences, insisting that "life has to continue." Al-Azzawi, who studied at the Royal Military School of Music in Britain, has found solace in music from both personal tragedy and Iraq's political crises. He performed a major concert a week after he lost his two young children in an Iranian missile attack in 1995. "The biggest problem for the orchestra is that we lost some good performers who left for Syria or Jordan or other places to find a better life and better opportunities," he says. "That can affect the balance of the whole orchestra." The 45-member Iraqi National Orchestra now has only one oboist left, but it still rehearses three times a week and is currently performing Mozart, Haydn and one of Al-Azzawi's own compositions in central Baghdad. Dressed in immaculate black tie, they play to an auditorium only half full, although the tickets cost the equivalent of just 50 cents. Al-Azzawi says the 50-year-old orchestra has only stopped playing once - for two months during the Gulf war of 1991. But it has not performed abroad since a concert in Jordan in the early 1990s. "Invite me to England," says Al-Azzawi. "We're ready to go whenever we're asked." Annie Mankonian, a 20-year old violinist who plays with an instrument her father gave her when she was six, can just remember the Iraqi musical scene before sanctions were imposed. "Teachers came from England, France, and Russia," she says. "Conductors came from abroad to help us. Now that's rare." But Al-Azzawi dismisses the difficulties, and concerns about the possibility of a new war. "It's hard for everyone," he says. "But we must continue working, rehearsing and giving concerts. We mustn't stop." http://www.thestate.com/mld/thestate/news/world/4447656.htm * TRIBAL VILLAGES A WILD CARD IN IRAQ'S FUTURE by E.A. Torriero The State, from Chicago Tribune, 5th November TARASHA, Iraq - KRT NEWSFEATURES: As chief of this tiny tribal village, Nazar Kareem Hameed settles conflicts among people who travel for miles to seek his wisdom. Brothers come for counsel in disputes about land and water. Grooms seek advice on arguments with prospective brides. Farmers ask for handouts to resolve squabbles over debts. As the Iraqi government steps up its anti-America propaganda efforts, it portrays millions of people in hundreds of scattered tribes as "combat cells," armed to the teeth and ready to battle American soldiers. But a visit to this expanse of scorched earth 50 miles from Baghdad paints a starkly different picture. Farmers, mostly unarmed, are concerned more about pressing daily quarrels than about a potential war with America. "I don't think about war, and they don't think about war," said Hameed, 44, sitting cross legged on thin cushions. "I think about my people, and they think about feeding their families." Just last week, Ezzat Ibrahim, the right-hand man to Iraq's President Saddam Hussein, told foreign reporters that tribesmen are gearing up to be loyal guerrillas and militias. "Shepherds are a combat cell. The people working the land are a combat cell," he said. Hameed, however, whose forefathers have presided over this region for more than a century, reports no mobilization among his Al-Azza tribal men or in any of the neighboring tribes. Few farmers have weapons in their houses, save for rusting shotguns used to shoot predators, he said. While women, children and elderly men in big cities spent some of the summer months training for urban warfare, Hameed said no courses were offered here. And while city dwellers stock up on extra food and money, Hameed's people aren't bothering. When it's time to fight, Hameed said, someone will make the hour's drive from the nearest big town, Samarra, and bring him the news. That's because there is just one telephone at a school in the village, and usually no one is there to answer it. "If our president tells us to fight, we have a plan," Hameed said, adding that people will hop into passing cars and report to a depot in Samarra to get government-issued weapons. "Then we will defend our land and fight." Dating back thousands of years and fiercely independent, tribes are an important part of Iraqi history. In the early 1900s, tribesmen helped drive back foreign invaders with planks riveted to long handled shovels. But in the last 80 years, Iraqi tribes have stayed mostly far from the fray, even as Iraq was immersed in war with Iran in the 1980s and later with the U.S.-led coalition in the gulf war. They supplied men to fight in the Iraqi army but mostly remained on their farms in a defensive posture. But in 1991, when Shiites attempted to rebel against Hussein at the end of the gulf war, tribal militias joined with Hussein's fighters to brutally quell the revolt. And in recent years, Hussein has made overtures of bribes and money to keep the tribes in his fold. In Afghanistan, tribes played a major role as U.S. troops enlisted the help of some warlords in ousting the ruling Taliban. Iraqi tribal fighters, however, would hardly be a match for the American military. They would play a far lesser role in a conflict than the Iraqi army, Hussein's Revolutionary Guard and his Baath Party loyalists. Still, tribes could be a wild card in a post-Hussein Iraq, Western experts said. How long and how deeply the tribes might oppose a new regime would be a good indicator of how the rest of this religiously and socially divided nation might react. "There is more evidence that they would be a nuisance than a potent force," said a Western diplomat who has contacts with some major tribes. "Still, whoever rules Iraq has to make peace with them and get them in the fold." A few miles from this impoverished village, regional tribal leader Riadth Safa Baha looked out over the land where people representing about 400 tribes live for miles around his modern mansion on the high banks of the Tigris River. Baha is the leader of the Al Sheik tribe, which has 20,000 members in five neighboring provinces. While he admires the acumen of neighboring tribal leader Hameed, he disputed his assessment of local battle preparedness. "Houses are stocked with weapons," Baha said. "Let America be aware that tribes all over Iraq are ready to fight them." Hameed, who like his father and grandfather before him greets supplicants day and night at his dusty farm of grapes and apples, said the immediate needs of his tribe must come first. In recent months, Hameed used a gift of 500,000 dinars - roughly $250 - from Hussein's government to take care of individuals who earn less than $3 per month. Reed-thin and of modest demeanor, Hameed gladly dispenses the largess. "The gift was not for me, but for my people," he said, handing out Korean cigarettes to his visitors. While he is considered by his people as one of the wisest men around, Hameed is not about to offer his advice on the weapons inspections dispute between Hussein and the Bush administration. "That is beyond me," he said. "In those matters, my president is more wise than me. He will find the perfect solution." http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/story.jsp?story=349643 * AS THE THREAT OF WAR GROWS, ARCHAEOLOGISTS MAKE PLEA TO SPARE IRAQ'S TREASURES by Louise Jury The Independent, 7th November The names evoke ancient kingdoms past, the empires of Babylon and Assyria from the times of Nebuchadnezzar and Alexander the Great. Most of the palaces and temples and mosques of those ancient civilisations crumbled many centuries ago. But something between 10,000 and 100,000 archaeological sites hold the enduring remains. They are, of course, in modern-day Iraq. And, as the United States prepares for war, an international band of curators and historians anxious not to repeat the damage inflicted on Iraqi treasures during the Gulf War 11 years ago are appealing to the American government to take the historic sites into account. Specialists concerned about potential threats to the thousands of archaeological ruins and architectural monuments scattered throughout Iraq are supplying maps and other information to the American Defence Department. And the initiative, co-ordinated by Arthur Houghton, a former antiquities curator at the J Paul Getty Museum, aims to highlight the most important with the hope that the military might just be able to give them a miss. "Based on the last Desert Storm, if a battle plan involved an invasion from Kuwait or Saudi Arabia, there would certainly be a likelihood of emplacement or trenching in sites," John Malcolm Russell, an American archaeologist told The Art newspaper. "In southern Iraq, the highest ground is often on top of archaeological sites. If you have bulldozers creating earthworks on these sites, that's going to destroy things." The threat is very real. Many treasures lie close to air bases or oil refineries or laboratories that were targeted in the Gulf War. The Kerbala Shia shrine to Imam al-Hussein, the most renowned of Iraq's sacred Islamic attractions, lies near a chemical weapons plant and missile range that were bombed in 1991. Ur, Iraq's most famous site and perhaps the earliest city in the world, is near a major air base that was also attacked. At Basra al-Qurna, a gnarled old tree, known as Adam's tree, stands on the reputed site of the Garden of Eden. A chemical weapons plant stands nearby. Helen McDonald, of the British School of Archaeology in Iraq, based at Cambridge University, said that last time the Iraqis had tried to move a great deal of their most important objects out into stores in the countryside. They have already begun to do so again. "But some things are immovable such as huge stones. If a bomb hits a museum or something, that would be it," she said. The consequence is the potential obliteration of generation after generation of history stretching back to 4,000 years before Christ. "The Near East in general, including Iraq, is one of the first areas to be settled by agricultural communities, one of the first areas to have civilisations with cities and writing and complicated structures like temples," Ms McDonald said. "People talk about Egypt but there were lots of similar but different things going on in Mesopotamia. If people go to the British Museum and see the Assyrian reliefs they come from places in Iraq. And there are still reliefs like that in the National Museum of Antiquities in Baghdad. "The British School of Archaeology in Iraq has written [about this]. They wrote to the Foreign Office during the Gulf War to express concern, not just on the humanitarian grounds but the effects that it would have on the culture." It is not only bombing that is a danger. Charles Tripp, of the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, warned that in the wake of the Gulf War, sanctions had inadvertently caused as much damage to the archaeological sites of Iraq as direct attack. The conditions of poverty had led to much looting of archaeological sites and site museums, which often contained significant finds even after the best items were removed to Baghdad. Numerous finds have turned up on the art market in the West. "There is a lot of temptation in a destitute country to rip something out that has a saleable value in the West," Dr Tripp said. American scholars are pointing to the Hague Convention of 1954, which prohibits the targeting of cultural and religious sites in war, to further their cause with the American government. Washington never ratified the accord but there were efforts during the Gulf War to avoid cultural monuments although the experts feared that American commanders did not have the archaeological information they needed to know which sites to avoid. Britain signed the convention but did not ratify it so is not legally binding. However, a Foreign Office spokeswoman said it did abide by international statutes, including Article 53 of the 1st Additional Protocol to the Geneva Convention, that prohibited acts of hostility against historic monuments, artworks and places of worship. "Obviously we do our utmost to honour our international obligations," she said. A Ministry of Defence spokesman said it could not discuss the situation in Iraq. The official British line remains that we are not preparing for conflict. But, in general terms, British forces attempt to be sensitive to cultural sites, the spokesman said. "In the targeting process, places of historical, religious or cultural significance are always taken into consideration as is their vicinity to legitimate military targets. The process is kept under constant review." The irony is that it is the British who helped encourage an Iraqi interest in its history and it has been British scholars, such as Max Mallowan, the husband of Agatha Christie, who have helped research many of the sites. Dr Tripp said: "From the time the state was founded by the British in the early 1920s, there was a very determined effort to develop something of an Iraqi identity by impressing upon them the incredible richness of the land they lived in." Saddam Hussein had gone on to use the past glories of the country to help build his nation, encouraging the people of the north to revel in the glories of Ninevah and those of the south to acknowledge the great history of the city of Ur. Dr Tripp added a grim prediction. He said: "Old Mesopotamia was the birth of civilisation. Clearly what might happen there is quite ghastly." http://www.cleveland.com/entertainment/plaindealer/index.ssf?/xml/story.ssf/ html_standard.xsl?/base/entertainment/1036665138303320.xml * AN UNSETTLING QUEST FOR TRUTH IN BAGHDAD by Mark Dawidziak Plain Dealer, 7th November Reporter Sam Kiley visits an Iraqi research center where, according to the United States, Saddam Hussein is developing "weapons of mass destruction." This is an American lie, the journalist is told, and he may enter any building at the site. Kiley takes the Iraqi officials at their word and attempts to enter a building that looks suspicious to him. He immediately is herded over to other journalists on a sanctioned tour conducted, Kiley says, "like it's a school outing." When he asks if the center's physics department includes nuclear physics, a scientist answers, "I don't know what you mean by nuclear physics." When he tries to look down a corridor, he's physically restrained and told to rejoin the group. You begin to understand the frustration expressed by United Nations weapons inspectors. You can go anywhere you like, but not there. You can ask anything you wish, but not that. This is the unsettling pattern that emerges from "Truth and Lies in Baghdad," a "Frontline/ World" report that will air at 9 tonight on WEAO Channel 49 and at 10 on WVIZ Channel 25. With President Bush making his case against Iraq, Kiley sets out to investigate claims about Saddam's weapons and reports that his regime beheads women as part of a campaign of terror. Those who believe Bush is overstating the case against Saddam's regime will not be comforted by Kiley's report. The journalist finds no weapons of mass destruction, it is true, but the futility of his search is in itself illuminating. In trying to deny Kiley access to information, the Iraqi officials provide a disturbing glimpse of a country in the iron grip of terror and propaganda. This propaganda would dismiss PBS, Kiley and "Frontline" as mere agents of Western powers and Zionist leaders, yet, again and again, the most incendiary comments are made by people who are provided by the government to make Saddam look good. When Kiley asks about public beheadings of women, a director at the Ministry of Religious Affairs says, "These stories were all fabricated . . . all the lies of America." If so, they are lies believed by his own people. Assumed to be the will of the government, the beheadings are spoken of with approval by Iraqis voicing approval of Saddam. Confirming the reports of eyewitnesses, they refer to these executions as common knowledge. When Kiley asks about claims that economic sanctions are hurting hospitals in Iraq, doctors tell him such shortages are a thing of the past. When one doctor says drugs are in short supply, Kiley is stopped from verifying this at the hospital's pharmacy. This is the truth he found in Baghdad, and he didn't have long to find it. His three-week stay was cut to 10 days when the government decided it didn't like the questions he was asking. NORTHERN IRAQ/SOUTHERN KURDISTAN http://www.bahraintribune.com/middle.asp?Art_No=9455 * BAR ON KURD MPS ATTENDING IRAQ MEET Bahrain Tribune, 4th November TEHRAN (Reuters): Iran has turned down a request by Kurdish legislators to attend a regional parliament in northern Iraq on the grounds their participation would fuel tensions with its old foe, a parliamentary source said yesterday. Iran's Foreign Ministry judged the trip "could be taken as interference in Iraq's internal affairs and Iraqi officials have adopted negative and threatening reactions in similar cases in the past," the source said. Iran opposes any US-led military action against its western neighbour, while advising Iraq to avert regional chaos by obeying United Nations resolutions on disarmament. "Iran has emphasised the territorial integrity of Iraq and since the developments in northern Iraq are to a large extent linked with American regional policies, any attendance of Iranian deputies would be interpreted as taking sides with such policies," the source cited the Foreign Ministry as saying. Iraq's Kurds reopened their regional parliament in October, aiming to stake a claim for autonomy from Baghdad should US military might topple Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. Iran has voiced its opposition to the formation of an autonomous Kurdish state in northern Iraq, fearing that it could spur riots among its Kurdish minorities demanding the same privilege. "Disintegration of Iraq and the formation of an autonomous Kurdish state in the north of that country has always been opposed by Iran and is against our national security and interest," the Foreign Ministry had stressed, the source said. "Participation of Kurdish MPs in that parliament would provide credit to this process, which contravenes our national interest," he added. http://abcnews.go.com/sections/world/DailyNews/iraq021106_assyrian.html * SOUNDS OF SILENCE by Leela Jacinto ABC News, 6th November Nov. 6 ‹ In the high mountains and plains of northern Iraq, a region above which U.S jets enforce the Kurdish "no-fly" zone, an ancient, minority Christian community still speaks the language once spoken by Jesus Christ. Called the Assyrians, they are one of the world's oldest Christian communities, and scholars believe the Aramaic language they speak today is a dialect of the language Jesus of Nazareth and his early disciples spoke. In the Christian villages and hamlets dotting the northern enclave, historic churches and monasteries today conduct their services in classical Aramaic, presenting a picture of a people and their culture untouched by time. But nothing could be further from the truth. Linguists warn that the Aramaic language is in its death throes, battered by centuries of persecution and marginalization by a range of conquerors from Persian armies and the Ottoman Turks to Saddam Hussein's Ba'athist regime. And these days, while the Bush administration makes repeated calls for a "regime change" in Iraq, the talk in Assyrian households across the world is getting increasingly urgent as a community that has preserved its culture through the centuries braces for another milestone in their long, often tormented history. "Our greatest fear if there is a regime change in Iraq is if there will be a substitution of Saddam Hussein's tyranny for a new tyranny," says Ronald Michael, president of the Assyrian American League, an Illinois-based organization representing the Assyrian community in the United States. Human rights groups say the Assyrians ‹ like the Kurds ‹ have suffered under Saddam's systematic attempts to "Arabize" the north, a process that includes driving ethnic minorities from their lands and seizing some of their properties, especially in the strategic, oil-rich northern region bordering the Kurdish enclave. "The Iraqi government has also forced ethnic minorities such as the Assyrians, the Kurds and the Turkomen to sign 'national correction forms' that require them to renounce their ethnic identities and declare themselves to be Arabs," says Hania Mufti of Human Rights Watch. "In a way, it is a form of ethnic cleansing by clearing an area of its ethnic minorities." Unlike the Shiite Muslim majority concentrated in southern Iraq and the empowered Sunni Muslims primarily based around Baghdad, the Kurds, Assyrians and Turkomen comprise Iraq's non-Arab populations ‹ a group whose loyalties have always been a cause for Saddam's concern. Through centuries of conquests as well as forced and voluntary migrations, the Assyrian community has been plagued by the politics of numbers. Assyrians define themselves as a broad category of Christian groups speaking Aramaic ‹ or Syriac, as it is sometimes known ‹ including followers of the Chaldean Catholic Church, the Syrian Orthodox Church and the Church of the East, among others. But scholars such as Naby Eden, an Assyrian-American specialist on minorities in the Middle East, say there have been attempts on the part of several Middle Eastern governments to categorize Christian groups by their churches in an attempt to break up an ethnic category along religious lines. Not surprisingly, reliable figures for the number of Assyrians in the world today are hard to come by. In the Middle East, Assyrians are spread across Iraq, Syria, Turkey, and Iran, where rights groups say they live as small, often discriminated-against minorities under governments that are largely unsympathetic to their religious and cultural aspirations. But an estimated 4 million Assyrians live in the United States, Europe and Australia today, in a steadily growing diaspora that dates back to the 1915 massacres of Armenians and Assyrians in the Middle East by the Ottomans. In northern Iraq, where an estimated 1 million Assyrians still live in towns and villages, the situation slowly improved when the northern enclave was established after the 1991 Gulf War, and the Kurds were allowed to build an autonomous region free from Saddam's control. In the current regional Kurdish parliament, there are five seats reserved for the Assyrian community, four of which are occupied by the ADM (Assyrian Democratic Movement). And where Aramaic was once banned by Saddam, today the language is taught in about 35 schools in the northern autonomous zone. But while the bridging of Assyrian and Kurdish interests in northern Iraq has been wobbly at best and troubled at worst, with Washington's renewed calls for political change in Iraq, the country's Christian minority has serious fears for the future. "We are in a critical stage today," says Edward Odisho, a linguist at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago and an Iraqi Assyrian who fled Saddam's Iraq in 1980. "We have the Arabs on one side and the Kurds on the other. And although we have good relations with our Kurdish brothers in northern Iraq, unfortunately, now the Kurds are behaving in the role of a big brother." Experts fear that in the event of a collapse of Saddam's regime in Baghdad ‹ a common enemy for the Kurds and the Assyrians ‹ historic differences between the two groups could resurface. And one of the greatest causes of concern is the festering issue of land ownership in the oil rich north. "There are outstanding issues of Assyrian villages and lands, which were vacated under Baghdad's forced repatriations during the 1970s and '80s," says Mufti. "Those issues have not been resolved when the Kurdish authorities took over and they are a bone of contention between the two groups." Experts warn that in the event of a war, control for the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk ‹ currently under Baghdad's control ‹ is a particularly troubling pressure point, which is being closely watched by neighboring Turkey. Earlier this month, in a run-up to last weekend's Turkish general elections, nationalist Turkish politicians and senior generals threatened to seize Kirkuk and Mosul in the event of war, citing Ottoman-era claims to the two oil-rich northern Iraqi cities. Some Iraqi Assyrians are also concerned that the Kurdish parties might seek an independent state if the United States attacks Iraq. "If the Kurds use the chaos of the war to try to grab land and if they are given a federal state, then we want our own state," says Michael, "because they [the Kurdish parties] have not proven themselves to be democratic." For their part, the leaders of the KDP (Kurdish Democratic Party) and the PUK (Patriotic Union of Kurdistan), the two leading Kurdish parties, have maintained that their aim is not to set up an independent government or entity, but an Iraqi federation made up of an Arab region and a Kurdish region. Some experts concede that Assyrian concerns about the democratic credentials of the KDP and the PUK are not unfounded. Over the past few years, Assyrian groups in northern Iraq have recorded a number of attacks against the community, primarily by militant Kurdish Islamic groups, including the Jund al-Islam (Soldiers of Islam), a group suspected of having ties to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network. Although the KDP and the PUK have outlawed the Jund al-Islam following a series of assassinations and armed clashes with the PUK, many Assyrian community leaders say the two Kurdish nationalist parties fail to administer justice in cases of attacks against the Christian population. "The nationalist parties don't want to lose the support of the Kurdish people," says Michael. "If the KDP is in power, we expect justice to be served. But the KDP turns a blind eye to these attacks out of fear of an Islamic backlash." But by far the biggest complaint, according to Mufti, is the Assyrian fear of being "lumped together with the Kurds." Particularly egregious from the Assyrian point of view are recent Kurdish attempts to classify Iraq's Christians as "Kurdish Christians." "They started calling us 'Kurdish Christian,'" says Odisho. "Then we should call them 'Assyrian Muslims.'" For a community that has had a minority status for centuries under different empires and has dispersed across the world, identity is a critical issue ‹ for Assyrians living in and outside the Middle East. With approximately 4 million Assyrians living in the West and speedily assimilating the cultures of their adopted lands, experts say a shared language can play the role of an emotional state, binding members in the absence of a geographic concentration. By all accounts, the continuation of the Aramaic language has been a linguistic feat, significant credit for which goes to the Assyrian exile communities who have refused to lose their mother tongue. "Aramaic has retained its place as a form of cultural identity because of the importance of the language to the people," says Stuart Creason of the University of Chicago. "Within history, there are very few examples of languages that are spoken for this long a period of time, maintained by the community." But Creason warns that the very future of Aramaic is at stake. "I would call Aramaic an endangered language," he says. "It's a language whose future existence is uncertain, and it could die out within a few generations because of the political situation." History has shown that the fate of languages is inextricably linked with the political power of the people who speak it. And Iraqi Assyrians hope their future will ring to the sounds of their ancient language. IRAQI/UK RELATIONS http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/news.asp?ArticleID=67337 * 'THE STORY OF IRAQ' ON BBC Gulf News, Dubai, 2nd November Starting November 8, BBC World Service will broadcast a new two-part series presented by Fergus Nicoll, the BBC's former correspondent in Iraq, a press release, a copy of which was sent to Gulf News, said yesterday. The Story of Iraq explores the country's modern history and the path that has led it to the present crisis, the press release said. Modern Iraq, with its current borders, is only 80 years old. It was carved out of the collapsing Ottoman Empire at the end of the First World War to be ruled under a British Mandate; it became independent in 1932 and a republic after the revolution of 1958. But since 1968 the country has been governed by the Ba'ath Party with Saddam Hussain in the driving seat. In 1980 Saddam launched a war against Iran that he thought he would win within months. It lasted eight years and brought Iraq to its knees. Throughout this war, he was supported by the West and the U.S. in particular, who saw Iran as a threat. Western powers did not complain when Saddam used chemical weapons against the Iranians and the Kurds in Iraq. It was only when he launched another war - against Kuwait - that he became the bitter enemy of the West that he is now. http://www.tehrantimes.com/Description.asp?Da=11/3/02&Cat=2&Num=1 * BRITISH ARMY CHIEFS TOLD WAR ON IRAQ "TOO EXPENSIVE" Tehran Times, 3rd November LONDON -- Finance Minister Gordon Brown has told the Defense Ministry that Britain, Washington's main supporter of possible military in Iraq, cannot afford to send troops to the Persian Gulf, a London-based daily said Saturday. Brown has ordered military planners to come up with new strategies after it worked out that the contribution to a U.S.-led war would cost three billion pounds (4.69 billion dollars, 4.71 billion euros), the Daily Telegraph said, quoting senior defense sources. This figure is about half a billion pounds more than the cost of the military action in 1991 in the last Persian Gulf War, led by the U.S. President George W. Bush's father and namesake, the daily added. "Defense chiefs are furious over the suggestion that they might have to cut the force numbers they believe they need to fight a war in order to fit into a treasury-imposed straitjacket," the front-page article said. Half of the treasury's three billion pound figure was for its estimate of the cost of deploying an armored division to Kuwait to oppose Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's elite Republican Guard, according to the same source. "They have told the planners at PJHQ (Permanent Joint Headquarters) to come away and come up with a plan that does not involve deploying ground forces," a senior defense source told the paper. "People at the very top are extremely angry about all this," another source said, according to the Daily Telegraph. "Instead of working out what you need to do the job and then costing it, everything has to be costed first and the job tailored to fit the money," it added. Military planners put the cost of a British contribution to an operation that lasts more than a year and involves a post-war occupation force as high as 15 billion pounds, according to the daily. "The treasury said we can't afford it," a senior defense source told AFP. "Well that will look great for British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the only allied leader who has actually been asked to send forces, the source added. http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2002/11/03/1036308205761.html * SADDAM OUT TO KILL DISSIDENTS IN UK by Con Coughlin The Age (Australia), 3rd November Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has told his security officials to kill Iraqi opposition leaders based in Britain to prevent them from forming an alternative government in the event of a military attack to remove his regime. According to British and American intelligence officials, he is also said to have asked Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi - who has a network of "sleeper" agents based in Britain and Europe - to help him target Iraqi dissidents. Details of the decree, transmitted from President Saddam's palace in Baghdad to Iraqi security officials in Europe and the Middle East last week, have been intercepted by British officials. The instructions have also been picked up by CIA spy satellites and by agents in the Middle East. British intelligence officials have told Scotland Yard's Special Branch to improve security for leaders of the main Iraqi opposition groups, most of whom are based in London. The headquarters of the Iraqi National Congress in Kensington is already heavily protected by bomb-proof doors and windows. Last week, Special Branch detectives were taking steps to improve protection for families of opposition leaders. [.....] http://www.guardian.co.uk/guardianpolitics/story/0,3605,830155,00.html * SUPPORT FOR ATTACK ON IRAQ FALLS TO NEW LOW by Alan Travis and Suzanne Goldenberg in Washington The Guardian, 5th November Support for military action against Iraq has slumped to its lowest since Tony Blair first seriously raised the prospect of war in August, according to the results of this week's Guardian/ICM tracker poll. Approval for a military attack on Iraq has fallen six points, from 38% to 32%, in the past week demonstrating that support melts away as the prospect of war appears to recede. Opposition to the war has, however, increased slightly over the past week - up one point to 41%. The main swing in opinion has been the move from those who support military action to those who are sceptical. The proportion of those who replied to ICM that they "don't know" whether military action is justified is up from 21% to 27%. The weekly Guardian/ICM tracker poll, which started on August 23, shows a longer term trend of support for military action settling down at around one in three of the electorate, with approval peaking at 42% in the aftermath of the Bali nightclub bombing. Opposition to the war started at 50% but has settled at around 40%, which it has maintained for three weeks. The gender gap continues. Women split 43% to 27% against war, while opinion among men is more evenly divided, with 39% opposed to military action and 38% in favour. While backing for the war remains "soft", this may be a lull before the storm as the UN is expected to agree its resolution on Iraq later this week. [.....] · ICM interviewed a random sample of 1,003 adults aged over by telephone from November 1-3. Interviews were conducted across the country and the results weighted to the profile of all adults. http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/news/articles/1899031 * ARCHBISHOP ATTACKS WAR ON IRAQ by Ben Leapman London Evening Standard, 6th November An attack on Iraq by the West would amount to little more than "colonialism", driven by a desire to secure oil supplies, the next Archbishop of Canterbury claimed today. In his most outspoken statement yet, Dr Rowan Williams warned that such a conflict could spread across the Middle East and trigger nuclear retaliation by Israel, at a cost of hundreds of thousands of lives. The intervention threatened to bring a new low to relations between the Church of England and No 10. It came as President Bush's aides put the finishing touches on a new draft United Nations resolution against Iraq, and as a poll showed the British public increasingly sceptical about the need for war. In his first public comments since his predecessor Dr George Carey retired last week, Dr Williams set out to counter claims that anti-war campaigners were similar to the politicians who appeased Hitler in the Thirties. In an article in the Daily Telegraph, he dismissed the comparison used by ministers including Foreign Secretary Jack Straw as "facile point scoring". He claimed that Arab nations were in a state of "panic" at the prospect of a US-led strike on Iraq. He continued: "The moral issue is whether we can properly say that our account of what the region needs takes precedence of what its inhabitants overall seem to say. "If the answer is that it does, there is the classic moral challenge to colonialism of various kinds - we are not the best arbiters of the interests of others when we have interests of our own at stake. (We are keenly aware of the matter of oil.)" He warned that a war could "risk the lives of hundreds of thousands in a region that could rapidly spiral down into chaos". And he said: "The exact calculation of what weaponry might be employed by a cornered Saddam Hussein is uncertain; and so is the retaliation that might then be provoked in the region from its sole nuclear power, Israel." [.....] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2002/11/06/nirq06.xml&s Sheet=/news/2002/11/06/ixnewstop.html * 'WAR CRIMES' FEAR FOR BRITISH TROOPS by Michael Smith Daily Telegraph, 6th November The Government is concerned that British servicemen and women involved in any war against Iraq could find themselves facing action from the International Criminal Court, defence sources said yesterday. This week's attack, by a CIA Predator drone, on a car containing al-Qa'eda terrorists in Yemen has served only to intensify concerns within the Cabinet, which extend to Tony Blair and Geoff Hoon, Defence Secretary. They are both lawyers by training, as is Jack Straw, Foreign Secretary, another key player in the debate. "Lawyer Blair and lawyer Hoon are really worried about this now," one defence source said. Lord Goldsmith, Attorney General, and Harriet Harman, Solicitor General, have warned the Government that if it attacked Iraq without the backing of a UN Resolution action then it could find itself hauled before the ICC. But defence sources said there was just as much concern over the possibility that even with a resolution in place individual servicemen might find themselves subject to action. One suggested that if a British reconnaissance aircraft passed information to a US ground attack aircraft that subsequently attacked civilians, the British servicemen might be held responsible. They would be subject to the ICC, although the pilot of the US aircraft would not, since America did not recognise the court. Despite extensive efforts by the British Government and the Foreign Office in particular, the US administration is opposed to any recognition of the ICC. Admiral Sir Michael Boyce, Chief of Defence Staff, who expressed concerns over the Government's decision to sign up to the ICC, also warned against the US willingness to act like "a 21st century high-tech posse". The attack in Yemen, with the CIA apparently acting as judge, jury and executioner, was typical of the type of activity over which Admiral Boyce expressed concern, defence sources said. He advocated drawing "red lines" beyond which British troops operating alongside US forces would not go. He also warned ministers that under the ICC commanders might face a choice between being accused of war crimes or changing rules of engagement to the point where the enemy could be certain of striking first. The MoD said that any British serviceman or women involved in any alleged offence brought before the ICC would have to be tried in Britain and would therefore be subject to the normal laws of the land. "We obviously agree to share information and intelligence with the Americans," a spokesman said. "We don't necessarily have any control over how it is used. "Nor does it follow that because US servicemen are not subject to the ICC they are allowed to go out and act with impunity. Any US serviceman accused of war crimes would be liable to prosecution in the US courts." http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,1-472670,00.html * STRAW PROMISES MPS IRAQ DEBATE AND VOTE The Times, 7th November Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, today promised MPs a full debate and vote on the situation in Iraq. Robin Cook, Leader of the House, is expected to announce the date for the debate next Thursday. Previously MPs have only debated Iraq on a technical motion to adjourn the House. During a Commons statement on the new UN resolution on Iraq, the Foreign Secretary was quizzed by Michael Ancram, his Tory counterpart, on whether there would be an early opportunity to debate the matter. Mr Straw told him: "You asked whether I am making arrangements for a full debate in Government time - the answer to that is yes. "And we hope that this will be on a substantive resolution." Responding to the announcement, Alan Beith, for Liberal Democrats, said: "Can I welcome the statement you have just made about a substantive motion for debate which would lead to a vote in the Commons on this matter." Later, Mr Straw said: "I'm not going to speculate about the circumstances in which military action may or may not operate but what I would say ... is that there will be the fullest possible discussion in the House as things develop. "For example, I'm arranging with the Chief Whip and the Leader of the House for there to be an early debate on a substantive resolution so that the House can have full opportunity to debate the matter." He added: "I'm strongly in favour of this House playing a full role whenever there's an issue of military action being taken by forces on behalf of this country." Mr Straw also said that President Saddam Hussein must comply with the tough weapons inspection regime set out in the new draft United Nations resolution or "face the serious consequences." The Anglo-American draft was circulated to all members of the UN Security Council yesterday. "The Council is now discussing the text and will vote on it shortly. A vote could come as early as tomorrow night," Mr Straw told MPs. The new draft made clear that Iraq had been and remained "in material breach of its obligations under previous Security Council resolutions", Mr Straw said. He went on: "Second, in operative paragraph two, the text affords Iraq a final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations." After detailing the tight timetable Saddam would be obliged to meet under the new resolution, Mr Straw told MPs: "The choice for Saddam Hussein is to comply with the UN or face the serious consequences." The Iraqi situation was discussed at this morning's full meeting of the Cabinet. Mr Straw said Britain wanted to see unanimous Security Council support for the resolution, to put maximum pressure on Saddam. The Security Council's only Arab member, Syria, is understood to be expressing reservations about the deal, though diplomats at the UN have still not ruled out bringing it on board. The concerns of France and Russia are now thought to involve only textual details, and it looks likely that they will give their approval within the next few days. http://news.independent.co.uk/business/news/story.jsp?story=350024 * WAR WITH IRAQ 'WOULD COST THE UK 230,000 JOBS' by Philip Thornton The Independent, 8th November War with Iraq would cost 230,000 UK jobs as companies cut costs and slashed investment budgets, an economic forecasting unit warned yesterday. A "short, sharp conflict" in Iraq would see economic growth tumble to just 1.6 per cent, Experian Business Strategies said, compared with its central forecast of 2.5 per cent. But a separate report from the Economist Intelligence Unit said there would only be a "modest" impact on the world economy from a quick victory. Neil Blake, Experian's research director, said the price of oil could rocket to nearly $40 (£25) a barrel, leading to higher costs for industry. "The result [is] reduced output growth and layoffs right across manufacturing and the private services industries. Unemployment would surge by 100,000 to 1.08 million, he said. The 230,000 figure includes 130,000 of new jobs that would have been created without the outbreak of war. London would be the worst affected, suffering 47,000 job cuts against a non-war scenario of 10,000 jobs created. But the EIU said while oil prices would peak at $35 to $40 it believed the oil producers' cartel Opec would increase its output to fill the shortfall. _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email firstname.lastname@example.org All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk